Independent Television Service for Wales and the West

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Independent Television Service for Wales and the West (ITSWW)
ITSWW logo.png
Based in Cardiff, Bristol
Broadcast area Wales
West of England
First airdate 4 March 1968
Closed 20 May 1968
Replaced Television Wales and the West
Replaced by Harlech Television (HTV)
Owned by An arrangement by the ITA where HTV used old TWW staff and facilities prior to becoming ready with its own franchise

Independent Television Service for Wales and the West or ITSWW is a unique entity within the history of ITV.[1]

On 11 June 1967 the Independent Television Authority (ITA) had announced changes to the structure and contracts of the ITV network in the United Kingdom, to take effect in July 1968.[2] Several changes were announced that would have far-reaching effects for British television.[3] The UK press decided that the most dramatic news was the loss of the Wales and West contract,[4] held by TWW since 1958,[5] to a consortium headed by and named after Lord Harlech.[6]

TWW spent some months fighting the decision, including some acrimonious exchanges with the ITA in the press.[7] However, the ITA remained resolute that it was legally entitled to remove any contract at any time for any reason,[8] and the board of TWW eventually accepted this and announced it would carry on providing a programme service to the area until the end of the contract period.[1]

ITSWW is generally not mentioned in history books (Bernard Sendall's otherwise complete history of the ITA's operations makes no mention of the service) and was rapidly all but forgotten.[9]

Problems with TWW[edit]

Although a condition of the new incumbent's licence was that all technical, office and engineering staff of the old company should be taken on (the standard ITA practice at the time),[10] it was becoming obvious that the new contractor, Harlech Television, intended to dismiss all the on-screen personnel of TWW, and launch with a fresh team.[11] These intentions had a marked effect on TWW morale and programme production became more difficult as the winter of 1967–68 wore on.[11]

Additionally, the board of TWW had been advised not to take the stake in Harlech offered to them by the ITA. TWW had other subsidiaries, but none were as profitable or fast growing as the television business. This depressed the TWW share price.[12]

Early in 1968, the TWW board decided that more money would be realised for shareholders in the eventual winding up of the company if they were to "sell" the last part of the old contract to the incoming consortium. This would provide a fixed guaranteed income for the final months of TWW and give some underpinning to the share price. TWW's accountants advanced this plan, and the ITA, who thought it would bring more stability to the situation, backed it.[1]

It was calculated that the profit after expenses that TWW might have made would be about £100,000 per month and that the earliest that TWW could reasonably exit would be around the end of February 1968. It was agreed to sell the last five months of the contract to Harlech for just under £500,000.[13]

However, Harlech were not yet in a position to begin production and would therefore have to launch their promised new service using "in the can" TWW productions; This was not an ideal situation for a replacement franchisee.[1]

ITA solution[edit]

The ITA suggested a solution, where the sale of the contract would go ahead, Harlech would receive all advertising revenue from the handover date and would pay TWW a fixed weekly fee to continue making local productions for a further five months.[1] During that time Harlech would be preparing its own programmes, using the same studios and staff, for launch in the summer.[1] The interim contract would use neither company's name, and the literal Independent Television Service for Wales and the West was chosen.[1]

This created a cordon sanitaire between the end of TWW and the start of Harlech. Nevertheless, the "in the can" TWW productions, of which there were many, still carried "TWW presents" and "TWW production" captions.[1]

Also, TWW in-vision announcers were retained by the interim set up,[11] giving a superficial impression that little had changed. This was referred to in the local press as "TWW's revenge" on Harlech.[1] In the event, Harlech decided that the confusion was not helping, and brought forward their own start date to late May. The interim service lasted just under three months.[1]

The interim service continued both of the former TWW dual services under the names 'South Wales and West' and 'Teledu Cymru' – the latter having been the existing on-air name in that area. For the interim period, both names were prefixed with the new phrase "Independent Television Service".[5] Thus the new ITSWW (the initials were never used on air, and mainly served as an abbreviation used by the newspapers[1]) was operating two channels known as ITSSWW and ITSTC respectively. What the viewers made of all this is unclear, but extensive broadsheet press advertising was taken out to explain the arrangements to those viewers deemed to be interested. Nothing was placed in the tabloids.[1]

Idents[edit]

A temporary ident was designed, with four white horizontal bars shooting towards the viewer, electronic music and the name revealing itself a line at a time. The former TWW clock was retained, as were the in-vision announcers.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "ITSWW - Album - Ident". Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  2. ^ Croston, Eric (ed) (ed.). "The Authority's Policy". ITV 1968. London: Independent Television Authority. p. 11. 
  3. ^ "BBC NEWS - Entertainment - TV and Radio - Timeline: 50 years of ITV". BBC News. 15 September 2005. Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  4. ^ "Death of TWW". Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  5. ^ a b "The List - GeoHistory". Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  6. ^ "The Harlech House of Graphics - The Early Years". Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  7. ^ The Daily Telegraph, "'Capricious injustice' to TWW", 21 June 1967, quoted in Death of TWW: Telegraph 21/06/67, accessed 16 March 2008
  8. ^ The Daily Telegraph, "Hill replies to Derby on TWW", 20 June 1967, quoted in Death of TWW: Telegraph 20/06/67, accessed 16 March 2008
  9. ^ Sendall, Bernard Independent Television in Britain: Volume 2 - Expansion and Change 1958-68 London: The Macmillan Press Ltd 1983 ISBN 0-333-30942-1
  10. ^ Hill (of Luton), Lord (Charles) (December 1967). "The Authority's Policy". In Croston, Eric (ed). ITV 1968. London: Independent Television Authority. p. 12. 
  11. ^ a b c "Iris Jones - TV Heroes". Retrieved 2008-03-16. 
  12. ^ Wagner, R and Carrington J, The Times, "TWW worst hit as £11.3m is wiped off television shares", 13 June 1967, quoted in From the City: The Times 13/06/67 Photomusications (Transdiffusion), accessed 16 March 2008
  13. ^ "TWW". Retrieved 2008-03-16.